The last thing you want is for someone who has decreased feeling in their feet — or decreased circulation — to have something like a bunion chronically rubbing inside the shoe, or a bent-up toe called a hammer toe, rubbing inside the shoe. In a short period of time, this can break down into an ulcer, which is very dangerous if you have diabetes.
I've had patients who — just one time — put on a pair of shoes that didn't fit correctly. They said, "I just wanted to go out, we were going someplace nice. I put this shoe on —I know, I wasn't supposed to wear that shoe, because you told me, doc, I'm supposed to wear this other kind of shoe that's good for my feet — but it was only one night, it was only a few hours." And then, they would be in my office the following week, with a hole in their toe. That sort of thing often ends up leading to amputation — just from the one-time thing. Because, it all works together: the decreased sensation, the decreased circulation, and wearing incorrect shoes.
This is the reason that we have a staff pedorthist (professional shoe fitter) as part of our diabetic program. We do a huge amount of diabetic shoe fitting in our clinic.
So, why do we offer diabetic shoes in our clinic? There was a time when I used to refer people out to get their diabetic shoes elsewhere. The problem was, I would have people come back the next year for another exam, and I would look and say, "I don't see your diabetic shoes. Did you get them?" They'd say, "Yeah, I got them." "So, why aren't you wearing them?" "Well, they were really ugly, so I didn't like them, so I didn't wear them."
It turned out that I was referring all these people out to get diabetic shoes, but because they were ugly or too heavy, patients would buy the shoes because their doctor told them to — but then they would go home and throw them in the closet and never wear them —which does absolutely no good.
That's the reason we decided to start carrying the shoes right here in our clinic. And my pedorthist, who knows something about fashion, set out on a mission to find those shoe companies that make stylish diabetic shoes — not those ugly orthopedic looking shoes. And she's done a very good job of it, and she has hundreds of styles of shoes! As a result, we now find that the great majority our diabetic patients who need diabetic shoes are actually getting the shoes they need — and actually wearing them. Why? Because they look like regular shoes.
Most people don't realize the variety of diabetic shoe styles available. For example, we all know New Balance, they make probably the best running shoes out there. New Balance actually makes a diabetic version of their shoes. It looks identical to their other New Balance running shoes. You would never know the difference from the outside — all the differences are on the inside. Hush Puppies, Drew — a lot of companies make diabetic versions of their shoes. But few providers carry them, because they don't want to have to deal with it. It's much easier just to say, "Hey, I've got this orthopedic looking shoe: black or brown, pick one." That's what most of the places do.
So now, by offering a variety of fashionable looking diabetic shoes, we've been able to get our patients to really wear their diabetic shoes — which really help to protect their feet. In fact, properly fitting diabetic shoes are so important, that almost every single insurance company will pay for the shoes and the special insoles that go in the shoes, if people will wear them.
For more information about our diabetic shoe program, give us a call at 804-320-FOOT (804-320-3668), or check out the links below. And, if you know someone who could benefit from our diabetic shoe program, please share this post with them using the social sharing icons at the bottom of this page.